Recently we drew attention to how Ian Gibson MP in a parliamentary speech had regurgitated whole chunks of an article by Derek Burke "GM Food and Crops: What Went Wrong in the UK?" http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3822
Burke's article poses the question "Why has the British public, who normally so pragmatically welcome scientific advances, resisted the introduction of genetically modified crops?" The article states, "The conclusive influences on the GM debate in the UK were those of the media and the non-governmental organizations". These Burke argues distorted the facts about GM and so misled the public.
Burke's opinions were published as an EMBO Report - intended to provide short papers on molecular biology - by Nature Publishing. Yet Burke has no expertise in the public understanding of science and it's interesting to compare his claims with the following summary of some recently published rigorous scientific research from a peer-reviewed publication (Science) which shows that the often presented picture of public antipathy to GM being the result of ignorance stirred to alarm by the media is simply not consistent with the facts.
Why are people hostile to biotechnologies?
Massimiano Bucchi1 and Federico Neresini2
Science, Vol 304, Issue 5678, 1749
Public debate on biotechnologies illustrates the difficulty of combining democratic forms with regulation of complex technoscientific issues. The root of the problem is often identified as a lack of "scientific literacy," mainly caused by a distorted and alarmist representation of these issues by the mass media and associated with prejudice against science.
Two years ago, we used data collected from two large surveys of Italian public opinion to demonstrate that, although lack of information on biotechnologies and a marked hostility against food biotechnologies are clear, the links between media exposure, levels of awareness, and attitudes toward biotechnologies are far from straightforward. In other words, it is not sufficient to be more informed to be more open to biotechnologies; indeed, the contrary is sometimes the case. http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2004/june/9033.htm Or if you have a subscription to Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/304/5678/1749